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Cinebench, File Compression, And PDF Creation

Good Things In Small Packages: Seven Nettop Platforms, Tested
By , Benjamin Kraft

Cinebench R10

Maxon’s Cinebench could be described as a semi-synthetic benchmark, making it a good transition from the synthetics to the real-world portion of our suite. Not a productive application itself, Cinebench is at least based on the rendering suite Cinema 4D. Although R11.5 is the current release, R10 is better suited to lightweight systems like these.

Knowing the tech specs of the chips powering these systems, our results could have probably been predicted. The Sandy Bridge-based CPUs dominate the field, including the OpenGL test. This graphics-oriented subtest seems to benefit from the additional CPU horsepower in no small measure, too.

With only one CPU core working, AMD's APUs slot into third and fourth place, followed by VIA’s Nano X2. The aging design is able to outpace both Atom CPUs by a wide margin.

Exploiting all available compute resources, though, threaded version of the test presents us a different ranking. Once more, the Core i3-2330M leads the pack, pulling ahead of its Celeron sibling. Third place goes to the most recent Atom CPU, which helps offset its IPC deficiency with four logical cores. The two AMD APUs end up within striking distance of each other. Meanwhile, four threads aren't enough to help the Atom D525 against the Brazos-based chips. VIA’s Nano X2 brings up the rear.

Once more, a look at the OpenGL test shows what 100 MHz of GPU speed can do for performance, as the E-450 takes a clear win over the E-350. The rest of the field finishes where we'd expect, as the newer Atom beats the older one, while VIA's Chrome9 engine pushes the Nano X2 to the bottom of the chart.

File Compression: 7-Zip, WinRAR, and WinZip

Even on low-end systems like these, file compression is a pretty standard workload. How do IPC, frequency, and threading factor into our results? This is the first of our timed benchmarks, so shorter bars denote better performance.

You’d think that, in a well-threaded benchmark like 7-Zip, the results would be easy to predict. And you’d be right, mostly. Still, there are some surprises. That the two more desktop-oriented Intel chips lead the pack is not one of them. Neither is the dominance of the Atom processors compared to the other nettop-specific chips.

That VIA outpaces both AMD APUs is definitely unexpected, however.

WinRAR tells a slightly different story, with Intel taking first, second, fourth, and last place. AMD’s E-450 grabs the bronze medal just a hair’s breadth ahead of the Atom D2700. We see another close race for fifth place, with AMD pulling ahead of VIA by a similarly slim margin. Finally, Intel’s old Atom D525 does not seem to do especially well in WinRAR, for some reason.

WinZip 14 is a decidedly single-threaded application. Interestingly, though, the rankings don't really change much, aside from AMD’s E-350 and VIA’s Nano X2 trading places. 

PDF Creation

Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional employs only one thread to print our 100+ page PowerPoint presentation to PDF format. The two Sandy Bridge-based models lead the pack once more, with the APUs trailing a ways behind. Next up are the newer Atom D2700 and VIA Nano X2. The Atom D525 finds itself in last place yet again.

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , July 6, 2012 7:04 AM
    What I really want to see is a nettop using AMD's 17w A6-4455M. Being a Trinity APU, it actually WOULD have enough grunt to run Crysis, and without it looking like crap to boot!
  • 18 Hide
    friskiest , July 6, 2012 6:59 AM
    bavmanThese things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.


    You pay for the size, power and niche factor in here,.. these are Nettops,.. you're not supposed to play AA or AAA games in here,. just browse the net,. watch movies and listen to music- as implied
  • 12 Hide
    we_san , July 6, 2012 6:58 AM
    Just curious. Are these in the same price segment ?
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    falchard , July 6, 2012 5:13 AM
    I think this review is bias. Its missing the AMD small form factor benchmark. Any game.
  • 7 Hide
    A Bad Day , July 6, 2012 5:34 AM
    JOSHSKORNIn all honesty, when it can run Crysis...I'll be impressed. Until then...alrighty.


    Well, if you run it in:

    -320p resolution
    -Directx 8
    -All eyecandy off

    You'll get around 5-10 FPS.
  • 12 Hide
    we_san , July 6, 2012 6:58 AM
    Just curious. Are these in the same price segment ?
  • 18 Hide
    friskiest , July 6, 2012 6:59 AM
    bavmanThese things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.


    You pay for the size, power and niche factor in here,.. these are Nettops,.. you're not supposed to play AA or AAA games in here,. just browse the net,. watch movies and listen to music- as implied
  • 21 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , July 6, 2012 7:04 AM
    What I really want to see is a nettop using AMD's 17w A6-4455M. Being a Trinity APU, it actually WOULD have enough grunt to run Crysis, and without it looking like crap to boot!
  • 3 Hide
    molo9000 , July 6, 2012 7:47 AM
    Shame these still aren't good at H.264 decoding. They would make great HTPCs.

    The hardware decoding of the VIA chipset would be a killer feature, if there actually was some software that supported it. Seems like XBMC doesn't support it either.
  • 1 Hide
    hmp_goose , July 6, 2012 9:33 AM
    The point of the Nano was power consumption, right? Didn't we just debunk that?
  • 9 Hide
    daglesj , July 6, 2012 9:55 AM
    I rolled out a load of Ion 330 Asrock boxes a couple of years ago for business use. Customers still love their little black boxes. These were the early 1.6Ghz dual core Atoms.

    For work use (basically 95% of what 95% of the worlds computers users actually do in the REAL world) they work great.

    There is more to life than endless benchmarking and Crysis.
  • 5 Hide
    outlw6669 , July 6, 2012 9:58 AM
    JOSHSKORNIn all honesty, when it can run Crysis...I'll be impressed. Until then...alrighty.

    The E-350 (and by extension the E-450) already can.... without even requiring a dedicated GPU....

    http://goo.gl/zrpqN
  • 1 Hide
    outlw6669 , July 6, 2012 10:03 AM
    Something else I would have liked to seen.

    What effect does AMD's integrated GPU have on performance?
    Looking at the other AMD APU articles, it could potentially be quite a performance boost.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2012 10:40 AM
    Nice. It would be interesting to see some ARM-based Linux nettop like TrimSlice benchmarked, too.
  • 8 Hide
    Augray37 , July 6, 2012 11:07 AM
    bavmanThese things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.


    Um, people want them because they're very very small. how small is your $200 tower plus Windows 7 plus the $200+ in HDDs plus $50 graphics card?
  • 5 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 6, 2012 11:30 AM
    I already use a nettop in the living room to run XBMC, wired network with all my content on NAS drives in the attic, programmed universal remote to control it, best technology investment ever
  • 4 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 6, 2012 11:33 AM
    bavmanThese things suck. Why would you dish out the $300-400 theyre asking for them? I recently built a file server that was basically a dumbed down tower with an g620 cpu, 4 gigs of ram for under $200 (excluding all the hdds). Throw in a $50 graphics card and it would dominate any of these nettops.

    Because an ATX tower case PC would use more power, be noisier and look stupid attached to your TV
    ...
    These are designed to be invisible and silent so you can use them as HTPC (for example)
  • 2 Hide
    serendipiti , July 6, 2012 1:46 PM
    I don't agree with your conclusion.
    You know that all of these systems have their own niche.
    In that particular scenario is acceptable to mention Core I3 performance. That's OK.
    I have to admit that I got somehow disappointed by AMD's performance, but I think that
    the power numbers make them real winners. In that constrained space where acoustics matter is all about low power numbers, isn't it ?
  • 5 Hide
    jblack , July 6, 2012 2:36 PM
    And what about price?


    I think anyone would go for the Core i3 in this situation if they are all priced similarly. You even mention it commands a premium in price, but you don't tell us how much any of this costs......
  • 3 Hide
    Branden , July 6, 2012 2:53 PM
    anyone who knocks these compact computers obviously don't understand their purpose.
    they're not supposed to be able to handle BF3 or handbrake, they're meant to handle basic everyday tasks while using up very little power and space. these things would be ideal for 90% of people who don't do much beyond itunes or facebook (and certainly not gaming or photoshop).

    in fact my HTPC is an E-350, it's small a silent, all a HTPC needs to be. it can handle 1080p blu-ray flawlessly, and with a SSD and 8GB RAM it boots up nearly as quickly as the HDTV warms up.
    i'm so happy with it when it comes time to build a new PC for my parents (my old socket 939 is serving them just fine) something like an E-350 is what i'll be looking at.
  • 3 Hide
    Hazle , July 6, 2012 3:07 PM
    pretty glad Brazos didn't disappoint. was kinda skeptical getting an E-350 last year when i had to get a new laptop. those benches do seem about right; browsing with a Brazos may not be the best compared to my desktop, but rarely do i need more than 15 tabs, and if my Pentium M could handle office work, i didn't see why Brazos couldn't.

    best of all was the media playback with 720p and 1080p videos with hardware acceleration. a great improvement compared to how my old laptop would struggle to play HD content.
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